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Microeconomic instability and children's human capital accumulation: the effects of idiosyncratic shocks to father's income on child labor, school drop-outs and repetition rates in Brazil

  • Sedlacek, Guilherme
  • Costa, Daniela Ribeiro da
  • Carvalho, Alexandre
  • Gustafsson-Wright, Emily
  • Neri, Marcelo Cortes

This paper evaluates the long-run effects of economic instability. In particular, we study the impact of idiosyncratic shocks to father’s income on children’s human capital accumulation variables such as school drop-outs, repetition rates and domestic and non-domestic labor. Although, the problem of child labor in Brazil has declined greatly during the last decade, the number of children working is still substantial. The low levels of educational attainment in Brazil are also a main cause for concern. The large rotating panel data set used allows for the estimation of the impacts of changes in occupational and income status of fathers on changes in his child’s time allocation circumstances. The empirical analysis is restricted to families with fathers, mothers and at least one child between 10 and 15 years of age in the main Brazilian metropolitan areas during the 1982-1999 period. We perform logistic regressions controlling for child characteristics (gender, age, if he/she is behind in school for age), parents characteristics (grade attainment and income) and time and location variables. The main variables analyzed are dynamic proxies of impulses and responses, namely: shocks to household head’s income and unemployment status, on the one hand and child’s probability of dropping out of school, of repeating a grade and of start working, on the other. The findings suggest that father’s income has a significant positive correlation with child’s dropping out of school and of repeating a grade. The findings do not suggest a significant relationship between a father’s becoming unemployed and a child entering the non-domestic labor market. However, the results demonstrate a significant positive relationship between a father becoming unemployed and a child beginning to work in domestic labor. There was also a positive correlation between father becoming unemployed and a child dropping out and repeating a grade. Both gender and age were highly significant with boys and older children being more likely to work, drop-out and repeat grades.

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Paper provided by FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil) in its series Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) with number 394.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fgv:epgewp:394
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  1. Lam. D. & Schoeni, R.F., 1996. "Effects on Family Background on Earnings and Returns to Schooling: Evidence from Brazil," Papers 96-13, RAND - Reprint Series.
  2. David Lam & Suzanne Duryea, 1999. "Effects of Schooling on Fertility, Labor Supply, and Investments in Children, with Evidence from Brazil," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(1), pages 160-192.
  3. George Psacharopoulos, 1997. "Child labor versus educational attainment Some evidence from Latin America," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 10(4), pages 377-386.
  4. Jacoby, Hanan G, 1994. "Borrowing Constraints and Progress through School: Evidence from Peru," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 151-60, February.
  5. Flug, Karnit & Spilimbergo, Antonio & Wachtenheim, Erik, 1998. "Investment in education: do economic volatility and credit constraints matter?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 465-481, April.
  6. Hanan G. Jacoby & Emmanuel Skoufias, 1997. "Risk, Financial Markets, and Human Capital in a Developing Country," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(3), pages 311-335.
  7. Gomes-Neto, Joao Batista & Hanushek, Eric A, 1994. "Causes and Consequences of Grade Repetition: Evidence from Brazil," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 117-48, October.
  8. Heckman, James J, 1976. "A Life-Cycle Model of Earnings, Learning, and Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S11-44, August.
  9. Lazear, Edward P, 1980. "Family Background and Optimal Schooling Decisions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(1), pages 42-51, February.
  10. Allen, Tim & Thomas, Alan (ed.), 2000. "Poverty and Development," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 2, number 9780198776260, December.
  11. George Psacharopoulos & Harry Anthony Patrinos, 1997. "Family size, schooling and child labor in Peru - An empirical analysis," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 10(4), pages 387-405.
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